Archive for November, 2011

Yesterday we sold an image for a large amount of money, bought off the site by credit card.

As always, we were delighted — until we saw the image. It was a very jolly and colourful cartoon in a style reminiscent of the 1970s. I thought Blimey, this photographer is talented! He can’t half draw!

And then a little shadow of suspicion crossed my mind. This cartoon looked like the work of a commercial artist from the 70s, not a talented photographer from the 20 teens. We looked at the photographer’s portfolio. As well as his photographs there were several images which demonstrated a bewildering variety of artistic talent, from etchings to cartoons. In a number of different styles.

Now fotoLibra prides itself on being an open access picture library. Anyone can upload anything as long as it passes our technical Submission Guidelines (and isn’t porn, of course) and the photographer adheres to our terms and conditions.

One paragraph reads as follows: (The Member warrants that) it owns the Intellectual Property Rights in the Images and licencing of such rights shall not infringe any third party’s right to privacy.

In our expensive lawyerspeak, this means fotoLibra members are only allowed to upload images which are their copyright, or in the public domain. In the UK, copyright persists for 70 years after the death of the creator of the work. So the work of artists who died before November 24th 1941 can be sold on fotoLibra, unless their estates have extended the copyright.

We go on to say that if someone sues, we’ll dump them faster than Gaddafi shot up a storm drain, or in more lawyerspeak: fotoLibra shall in no way be liable for any breach by the Member of the warranties and the Member hereby indemnifies fotoLibra from and against any and all claims, liabilities, damages, actions, proceedings (including reasonable legal fees and expenses) that may be suffered or incurred by fotoLibra which arise out of or in connection with such a breach.

Our chastened member has removed the offending images. In turn we have grovelled in front of the innocent purchaser, rent our garments and refunded his money. He has been more than magnanimous in his understanding, and we hope he will be buying a different (and even more legal) image from us.

How wonderful some people are.

Please please PLEASE do not upload images for which you do not hold the copyright. And immediately delete from your portfolio any such images. We’ll delete them when we find them, as well.

But it’s YOUR responsibility.

Unlikely partners? Not really.

A Google search on Martin Scorsese (a name his parents made up) returns 15,600,000 results.

A Google search on fotoLibra (a name I made up) returns 1,760,000 results.

So we’ve got a way to go yet. But we’ve only been going since 2004, and he’s been around since 1942 (happy birthday for Thursday, Martin).

I’ve just watched Scorsese’s documentary Living In The Material World about George Harrison, and there, buried in the credits at the end (you had to have very sharp eyes), is the acknowledgment line “Denis O’Dell / fotoLibra”.

It’s not much, but it’s a credit in a Scorsese movie. They paid well for the picture usage, too. Congratulations, Denis!

And I can’t keep the grin off my face.

Heritage Ebooks, for those who don’t know, is the digital publishing arm of VisConPro Ltd, the holding company of fotoLibra. So we’re sister companies: same owners, same shareholders, same staff.

We set up Heritage Ebooks to demonstrate the advanceImages system for supplying images to ebook publishers, and it’s already taken on a life of its own. I will be blogging extensively about advanceImages next month.

Heritage Ebooks’ first 40 titles are the Follies of England series, over a quarter of a million words written by me and Dutch art historian Wim Meulenkamp, and with a large percentage of the 1,900+ photographs taken by fotoLibra members. You can see our first titles here at heritage.co.uk — click on VIEW ALL TITLES.

Although we’re not awash with critical acclaim — nobody has yet reviewed a single title — there has been media interest. I was on BBC Radio 4′s flagship programme Today on Monday 31 October, talking about follies.

Today the Daily Mail ran a good, big feature on the amazing follies of Whitaker Wright, with a credit to Heritage Ebooks at the end. You can read it here.

All this, as our PR says, is grist to the mill. fotoLibra members are being paid a royalty on the sale of these books, so the more books we sell, the more they will earn. And ebooks never go out of print. So the money will keep coming in. More publicity means more sales. To date we’ve sold 99. Harry Potter this isn’t.

But it’s a start.